My view on sustainability

My view on sustainability

Sustainability has never been a big passion of mine; I didn’t actively practice it or make conscious decisions with sustainability in mind, and I was definitely not aware of what it looked like at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

But as fate would have it, I was suddenly tasked with creating a sustainability guide for new students. Me! I questioned whether I was the right person to be creating the guide seeing as I had very basic knowledge on sustainable practices, but as the weeks went on, I realised I was probably the perfect person; not only was I making something to educate new students, but I was also educating myself.

As a student at the University, I was unaware of most of the practices the University had in place for sustainability. I do apologise for not being a more sustainability focused student, but I was always under the impression that it was an incredibly difficult process to implement sustainability in your life, beyond putting the recycling bin out. However, I quickly realised that even just making small changes to your everyday routine can make a big impact.

The University’s sustainable practices are a great example of this idea. Take the Auraki scheme; nearly all takeaway cups on campus have been replaced with reusable mugs you can drop off at certain stations when you’re finished. You don’t even have to clean them! Just as convenient as throwing your cup away.

While these small changes are great, it’s the big practices done by the University that really impressed me like the net zero by 2030 actions. Learning about how the university is trying to phase out fossil fuel use and implement renewable energy sources opened my eyes to how valued sustainability is at Victoria University of Wellington. And I wondered do other students know about this? Are these actions widely known or was I just in the dark this whole time? It was quite comforting to know that the University was doing something to combat climate change rather than contribute to it. I was hopeful; this massive institution was facing the major sustainability issues it had head on with step-by-step processes and a timeline to meet all these goals. Surely, I could make some small changes to help contribute.

Even if sustainability isn’t on your radar (although it most definitely should be considering the state of the world) taking the initiative to educate yourself on it can make all the difference. I know it has for me.

Elin Ridge is a former student at Te Herenga Waka. Find out more about the University’s sustainability programme.

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